The first week at home with our newly diagnosed 23 month old daughter was what I like to refer to as “hell week”. I guarantee it would have tried the patience and endurance of any Marine. I cried, I begged, I wondered what the heck my life was turning out to be. And I wasn’t even the one diagnosed with type 1 diabetes! But seriously, I would have had to check into a mental asylum if it had been much longer than that infuriatingly long week. Why do you ask? My toddler’s tantrums should have been the basis for the Exorcist. She could have taught fellow two year olds on how to properly throw a temper tantrum worthy of an Oscar nomination. You could have filmed it for a reality TV show on dysfunctional children with behavioral issues.
I want to preface the following by saying I totally would have done the same thing if I was two years old and had no understanding of what was happening to me. I probably would’ve despised my parents for seemingly torturing me 10+ times a day with needles galore and on top of that, waking me up throughout the night leaving me feeling like a zombie. However, sympathizing does not alleviate the totality of the stress of having to watch your two year old throw herself on the ground and bang her head backwards. Hitting, biting, kicking, & deafening screams. I actually worried that my neighbors would think that we were abusing our child from the sounds that emanated from our house. I worried about concussions from the throwing her head backwards on the tile. She developed bruises from the insulin shots from kicking in the middle of an injection. She ran from us when we tried to get blood for her glucose checks. We woke up every 2-3 hours to check her blood at night to make sure she wasn’t going low. A lack of sleep abounded in our family. Did I mention I was 4.5 months pregnant during this?
I felt like no one could understand. She was eating more than a teenage boy to recover from the weight loss associated from the DKA episode (at her diagnosis). To everyone else, she was handling it like a champ. But…..She had a special resentment just for mommy during our long hours alone together while daddy was at work. I had to figure out pretzel-like maneuvers to get her into a manageable position to give her shots & check her blood. I had calculators all over the place to double check my carb counts before I could feed her. And did I mention that she wanted to be fed NOW. As in blood curdling screaming that would last from the instant she felt a hunger cue through the blood check, preparation, cooling, counting, plating, etc. Did I mention she was hungry ALL THE TIME. And on a feeding schedule. With limited carb amounts. Let’s just say she ate a lot of cheese and sugar-free jello that week.
I was terrified of making a mistake. We had the smallest syringe available and had to fill it to one of the two smallest lines within the syringe. There was: two types of insulin to possibly mix up; lancets to deal with; sharps containers to pick up; organization of the buckets of diabetes care items and education; writing down EVERYTHING.
Everything I had taken for granted was becoming my most treasured memories. Easter approached right after diagnosis and all the other kids got Easter candies. Except my child, who couldn’t have them. It was like a giant pity-party at our house. Mourning for the childhood she should have had, filled with cotton candy, Halloween treats, birthday cake, candied apples, Sunday morning pancakes, and baking cookies with mom.
All kidding aside, you literally go through the 7 stages of grief: Shock & Denial – yep; Pain & Guilt – double check; Anger & Bargaining – oh ya; Depression, Reflection & Loneliness – yep; Upward Turn – this is the “getting a handle on my emotions” portion; Reconstruction & Working Through – this one took a couple of months; Acceptance & Hope – 6 months later I am here.)